Up is down, north is south and the opposite of what was once true is now a fact when it comes to some key decisions being faced by cattle producers.

“For many years I’ve heard cattle producers say that production is easy and marketing is hard; that has largely reversed itself given today’s record price levels,” said Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist. “Most any animal one has to sell these days brings a good value in the beef marketplace.”

The overwhelming recommendation by Peel and his fellow analysts across the nation is for producers to focus on having something to sell and managing production to take advantage of current market opportunities.

“A producer still needs to assess his or her specific operational needs and choose what works best, but it’s pretty wide open,” Peel said. “High cattle prices are no guarantee of profitability but high prices combined with production flexibility gives an individual beef producer more opportunity to control his or her fate.”

In short, cost of production will be higher and input markets are volatile, so a producer must evaluate input use carefully and be prepared to adjust production practices accordingly.

“Good business sense now means not necessarily doing things the same old way, though in some cases it may mean something as simple as a shift in emphasis,” Peel said.

For example, the value of reducing death loss by one calf is significantly more given today’s high cattle prices. This signals a producer to pay additional attention to his or her operation’s health program, even though such a consideration is always important.